Historic Danish orchestra silenced forever

The 75-year-old Danish National Chamber Orchestra will lay down its instruments for good after the culture minister and public broadcaster DR come to terms on a new public service agreement.

Historic Danish orchestra silenced forever
The culture minister allowed DR to go through with its budget cuts, spelling the end of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra. Photo: Jonas Skovbjerg Fogh/Scanpix
In the end, neither a viral video nor a political majority proved enough to save the Danish National Chamber Orchestra (DR’s UnderholdningsOrkestret).
Culture Minister Marianne Jelved said on Tuesday that she has signed a new public-service agreement with broadcaster DR that will see the 42-person orchestra shut down as planned. 
Jelved said that although a majority of parliament was against the closing of the orchestra, politicians were unable to come up with a realistic alternative for funding it.
“The majority behind the approval [of the public service agreement] is not in agreement on the need to renegotiate the deal. There has not been a majority for that at any point. Therefore, the orchestra will not be saved,” Jelved said in a press release. 
Opposition parties Venstre, the Danish People’s Party (DF) and the Conservatives, along with the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) all opposed the orchestra’s closure and argued that Jelved couldn’t simply ignore the political resistance to shutting it down.
Enhedslisten’s Jørgen Arbo-Bæhr even called it “immoral” that DR would close down the orchestra despite being obligated to operate it under the public-service contract, which is periodically renovated with the Culture Ministry. 
Jelved however argued that getting overly involved in DR’s operations goes against the ‘arms’ length principle' in place between the Danish state and the public broadcaster. 
Following Tuesday’s decision to sign the agreement with DR as-is and allow the orchestra to close, DF issued a call for Jelved to resign. 
“This just shows that the minister at no time wished to listen to a majority of parliament. Min confidence in Marianne Jelved is very minimal now and I am of the opinion that she should step down,” DF’s Morten Marinus told Altinget. 
The closure of the 75-year-old Danish National Chamber Orchestra comes as part of a plan to cut 161 million kroner per year from DR’s budget. In addition to eliminating the orchestra, DR also called for the elimination of up to 200 jobs. 
The Danish National Chamber Orchestra enjoyed a bit of time in the international spotlight recently when a video of musicians performing after eating hot chills went viral. The video has been seen nearly three million times. 

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Historic Danish orchestra rises from the ashes

Private contributions have given the Danish National Chamber Orchestra a second life after broadcaster DR axed it from its budget after three quarters of a century.

Historic Danish orchestra rises from the ashes
The Danish National Chamber Orchestra will pick up its instruments again. Photo: Simon Læssøe/Scanpix
The 75-year-old Danish National Chamber Orchestra will rise from the ashes of its controversial closure to play on under a new name, the trade magazine Musikeren reports
The Danish National Chamber Orchestra (DR’s UnderholdningsOrkestret) was axed from broadcaster Danmarks Radio’s budget as part of plan to save 161 million kroner per year. 
The decision was deeply controversial, especially coming at a time when DR and tourist organization Wonderful Copenhagen were being criticized for wild overspending on May’s Eurovision Song Contest
A political majority opposed the orchestra’s closure but Culture Minister Marianne Jelved decided in December that since no political alternative could be found for funding the 42-person orchestra, she would sign a new service agreement with DR that approved of the cuts and silenced the orchestra
But where politicians failed, the people succeeded. A Kickstarter campaign has raised over one million kroner of its three million kroner goal and now Musikeren reports that “two large Danish actors in the Danish business community” will come through with the remaining funds. 
The musicians’ association Dansk Musiker Forbund (DMF) met with DR last week and reportedly reached an agreement to save the orchestra’s future. 
“The result of the meeting with DR was a full acceptance to go forward with the project, both in relation to the orchestra’s new name Danmarks UnderholdningsOrkestret and in relation to the concert activity that is planned for February 1st,” DMF spokesman Steen Jørgensen told Musikeren. 
The newly-renamed orchestra will play its first concert on February 1st at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Frederiksberg. Tickets for that performance, which are on sale now, will help fund the orchestra’s future. 
See the Danish National Chamber Orchestra perform at the Copenhagen mall Fisketorvet: